Level up! (or, Why the Gamer’s Mentality is not a bad thing)

Wednesday night at dinner, The Boy very proudly told me that he started working on the blue boxes at school. This is a very big deal. When students begin writing sentences, they start with the pink boxes. Once they master those, they can move up to the blue boxes.

“And after I master the blue boxes,” he informed Cute Husband, “I can work on the green boxes! Those are the hardest, but when I’m in Kindergarten, I’ll have to work on the green boxes every day!”

For better or worse, I realized that this is kind of how The Boy approaches learning. It’s like a game to him. You start out at the simplest, most basic level, then move up to different worlds or levels once you master those skills.

With his lessons, he has set his own goals. He wants to read proficiently because he’ll be able to play his Pokemon card game and read directions on his Phineas and Ferb games. He wants to practice writing sentences so he can move up to the green boxes. He wants to practice addition so he can move up to subtraction and ultimately up to division (“The line with the two dots on top and underneath it,” as he describes it). He wants to play the guitar well so he can learn a song and play it well. (And then learn more songs.)

He was like this even as a toddler; you could see what his goals were. He wanted to see over the top of our bed. He wanted the ability to climb onto our bed. He wanted to be able to open a door by himself. He wanted to be able to turn on the lights (and turn them off). He wanted to be able to run quickly, balance on the edge of the curb without falling off, and open the garage door. He wanted to be able to get water from the refrigerator, and then he wanted the ability to switch between ice and water. He wanted to reach things from the counters.

He just wanted to get to the next level.

I think the human brain is wired to want to level up. I think we get bored with complacency and comfort. I think we, as humans, need to continue learning and mastering skills so that we can at least feel like we’ve reached the next level, even if we don’t get a promotion or a raise at work.

Or maybe it’s just me and my crazy little family. Maybe The Boy was doomed to have this Gamer’s Mentality because both Cute Husband and I have it. But I know he has this mentality, and I can see it in the way he tenaciously attacks new challenges at school (and yes, his guitar). He approaches them in the same way he approaches a video game: he repeats a level over and over and over again until he finally levels up.

And then he moves on to the next level.

Because he does it at his own pace, he doesn’t burn himself out. The lessons aren’t too difficult for him, and he still has that enviable mindset that failure isn’t possible if you try hard enough. Just like you can beat the final boss in any video game if you try hard enough and log enough hours, you can master any skill you want if you try hard enough and put in the hours.

So maybe the Gamer’s Mentality isn’t such a bad thing, after all.


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